PORT ARTHUR – Veolia Environmental Services will temporarily store the ash from Ebola virus-contaminated material that it incinerated late last week at its Port Arthur site because a hazardous waste landfill in Louisiana won’t accept it as long as politicians there contend it might be unsafe, Veolia’s general manager said on Monday.
“Waste Management asked us not to send it at this time,” Mitch Osborne said, referring to the Chemical Waste Management landfill in Carlyss, La.
“The contaminants were destroyed. It’s in safe storage where it will continue to be. It’s not urgent to send it out. We’ll wait for the politics and the emotion to settle down,” Osborne said.
Osborne said other waste was burned with the virus-contaminated material, adding it’s not possible to sort through the resulting ash and isolate what was from the Dallas apartment and the other waste Veolia accepts daily.
Veolia burned 140 drums this past Thursday and Friday that contained contents from the apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan, infected with Ebola in West Africa, had lived immediately before hospitalization in Dallas.
Duncan died last week, and his remains were cremated on Friday.
Veolia accepted the six truckloads of material from Duncan’s apartment on a contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services for incineration.
On Monday, Louisiana’s attorney general declared he would seek a restraining order to prevent shipment of the ash residue to the Carlyss landfill.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in an email that, “It is absurd to transport potentially hazardous Ebola waste across state lines. This situation is certainly unprecedented, and we want to approach it with the utmost caution. We just can’t afford to take any risks when it comes to this deadly virus.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines say, “Ebola-associated waste that has been appropriately inactivated or incinerated is no longer infectious.”
Texas health authorities and officials with the CDC supervised the decontaminating, bagging and shipping of the material from the Dallas apartment to Veolia, where the state and federal officials also observed the transfer from the trucks into the Veolia incinerator.